What a difference a year makes. Last January, the Port of Oakland faced the bankruptcy of its second-largest marine terminal tenant.
Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle addressed a crowd of 250 people that convened on the waterfront in Jack London Square for the annual State of the Port address. Photo courtesy of the Port of Oakland
BC Staff Report
Published: February, 2017
What a difference a year makes. Last January, the Port of Oakland faced the bankruptcy of its second-largest marine terminal tenant. Today it faces a new year fortified by record earnings and cargo volume over the last 12 months.
“I have to tell you, this feels a whole lot better,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle last month. “We’re on a bit of a roll.”
Lytle spoke to 250 people at his annual State of the Port address in Jack London Square. The audience included Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. During the speech, Lytle rattled off record-breaking performances at the port in four areas during the past year:
An all-time-high 62 nonstop destinations from Oakland International Airport;
All-time-high loaded containerized cargo volume at the Oakland seaport;
More than three million visitors to the port’s Jack London Square; and
$338 million in operating revenue for Fiscal Year 2016, also an all-time- high number.
Lytle said he was particularly pleased that nearby communities benefited from the port’s success. He said that the port updated its Project Labor Agreement in 2016 to give local workers more construction jobs. He also said the port reported a 98 percent drop in truck diesel emissions, improving air quality in nearby neighborhoods.
The port’s progress is gratifying given where it began 2016, Lytle said. A year ago, its second-largest terminal operator declared bankruptcy and departed. The port responded by consolidating container business into four remaining terminals. The outcome was that the port retained all of the bankrupt terminal’s cargo and actually grew loaded container volume 7.6 percent.
“We’re healthy, and we want to keep it that way,” Lytle said.
There’s still work to do if Oakland wants to grow its influence as a global trade gateway, Lytle said. Operating performance improved in 2016, he reported, but has to get better yet. He also said the port needs to increase its containerized import volume to match strong export growth.
Lytle said expectations are for three to four percent cargo volume growth at West Coast ports in 2017. He added, however, that he expects the Port of Oakland to outperform. “Our marine terminals are investing, modernizing, improving,” he said. “We’ve done a very good job in preparing for the future.”
Lytle said continued growth would be the port’s theme in 2017, with a groundbreaking for this month on a 300,000-square-foot “cool port.” The cold storage and transfer facility will process up to 30,000 containers of beef and pork annually, he said.
Oakland International Airport will significantly expand its international route map this year, Lytle said. New destinations will include Barcelona, Copenhagen and Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. British Airways will become the second airline flying Oakland-to-London routes.
The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland seaport, Oakland International Airport, and 20 miles of waterfront. Together with its business partners, the port supports more than 73,000 jobs in the region and nearly 827,000 jobs across the United States.